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UnidosUS Action Fund and Pennsylvania Latino Leaders Highlight Urgent Need to Address Health Care and Food Insecurity for Latino Families

Apr 19, 2024

BETHLEHEM, PA -- Today at the Fourth Annual Latino Health Summit in Bethlehem, PA, UnidosUS Action Fund Executive Director Rafael Collazo and Latino leaders highlighted the ACA's positive impact on expanding health coverage for Latino families. They emphasized the urgent need to address healthcare and food insecurity among Latino families in Pennsylvania and nationwide.

“Every American who goes to work every day should be able to feed their families and provide them with decent health insurance," stated Collazo. “Defending the ACA isn't just about policy; it's about safeguarding access to quality healthcare for millions of Latinos who rely on its protections.”

"As a State Representative in Pennsylvania, I've witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of the Affordable Care Act on Latino families across our state. Unfortunately, the stark reality is that without the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the number of uninsured Latinos in Pennsylvania would double, rising from 120,000 to nearly 240,000,” said State Rep. Danilo Burgos.

The group highlighted the progress made since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, noting that Latinos have experienced significant gains in health coverage. And this past January, as part President Biden’s historic Inflation Reduction Act, nearly four million seniors on Medicare with diabetes started to see their insulin costs capped $35 a month. This is particularly impactful for Hispanic seniors, ensuring equitable access to life-saving medication and improving their overall health outcomes.

“Our communities are disproportionately impacted by the cost of healthcare, other health disparities, and lack of access to resources. As an insulin dependent type 1 diabetic, I am dedicated to advocating for reduced prescription prices and caps on life saving medications,” said Yamelisa Jimenez Taveras, MA, ICAADC, ICCS and CEO of Counseling Solutions LV, Founder of Unidos Inc.


However, despite this progress, far too many Hispanic families are still left behind, with nearly one in five Latinos remaining uninsured.

“The systematic barriers to healthcare access faced by black and brown communities contribute to disproportionately high morbidity rates among women of color during childbirth, highlighting the urgent need for equitable healthcare reform,” stated State Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz. Emphasizing the importance of equitable healthcare for all individuals regardless of nationality or background, Allentown Council President, Dr. Cynthia Mota added, “Healthcare access is a universal human right that transcends borders.”

The ACA also ensures that mental health services are considered an essential health benefit, mandating coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services. By ensuring coverage this coverage, the ACA helps address disparities in access and treatment outcomes, promoting the overall health and well-being of Latino communities.

In addition, hard-working Latinos are disproportionately affected by too little food to eat and exorbitant health care costs, often facing these challenges while working jobs without health benefits. Food insecurity is also pressing issue, particularly for Latino families, with twenty-one percent lacking adequate food compared to twelve percent of non-Hispanic white families in late October 2023.

Collazo highlighted disparities in healthcare access and outcomes for Latinos, underscoring the risks of ACA repeal, which could leave millions uninsured and vulnerable to high healthcare costs. UnidosUS Action Fund presents policy recommendations aimed at addressing these challenges, including:

  • Do not repeal the Affordable Care Act or the Inflation Reduction Act.

  • Pass the Lift the Bar Act to ensure health coverage for lawfully present immigrants and eliminate discrimination based on immigration status.

  • Streamline enrollment processes for health care and food assistance programs to alleviate paperwork burdens.

  • Make the premium assistance provided by the Inflation Reduction Act permanent.

  • Extend Medicare's $35 cap on insulin to individuals under age 65.

  • Advocate for measures in the pending Farm Bill to address food insecurity, including restoring SNAP benefits to pre-pandemic levels and ensuring equitable access for American citizens in Puerto Rico.

The UnidosUS Action Fund is the advocacy and political arm of UnidosUS, the largest Latino civil rights

and advocacy organization in the United States. UnidosUS Action Fund works to amplify the voices of

Latinos on critical policy issues, including education, immigration, healthcare, and economic justice.



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